(a) For the purpose of creating a Workers' Compensation Fund, each employer who is required to subscribe to the fund or who elects to subscribe to the fund shall pay premium taxes calculated as a percentage of the employer's gross wages payroll as defined by the commission at the rate determined by the commission and then in effect plus any additional premium taxes developed from rates, surcharges or assessments as determined by the commission. At the time each employer subscribes to the fund, the application required by the commission shall be filed and a premium deposit equal to the first quarter's estimated premium tax payment shall be remitted. The minimum quarterly or other reporting period premium to be paid by any employer is $25.
(1) Thereafter, the premium taxes shall be paid quarterly or at other payment intervals established by the commission on or before the last day of the month following the end of the quarter or designated payment interval and shall be the prescribed percentage of the entire gross wages of all employees, from which net payroll is calculated and paid, during the preceding quarter or other designated payment interval. The commission may require employers, in accordance with the provisions of rules proposed by the executive director and promulgated by the board of managers, to report gross wages and pay premium taxes monthly or at other intervals.
(2) Every subscribing employer shall make a gross wages payroll report to the commission for the preceding reporting period. The report shall be on the form or forms prescribed by the commission and shall contain all information required by the commission.
(3) After subscribing to the fund, each employer shall remit with each premium tax payment an amount calculated to be sufficient to maintain a premium deposit equal to the premium payment for the previous reporting period. The commission may reduce the amount of the premium deposit required from seasonal employers for those reporting periods during which employment is significantly reduced. If the employer pays premium tax on a basis other than quarterly, the commission may require the deposit to be based upon some other time period. The premium deposit shall be credited to the employer's account on the books of the commission and used to pay premium taxes and any other sums due the fund when an employer becomes delinquent or in default as provided in this article.
(4) All premium taxes and premium deposits required by this article to be paid shall be paid by the employers to the commission, which shall maintain a record of all sums so received. Any sum mailed to the commission is considered to be received on the date the envelope transmitting it is postmarked by the United States Postal Service. All sums received by the commission shall be deposited in the state Treasury to the credit of the Workers' Compensation Commission in the manner now prescribed by law.
(5) The commission shall encourage employer efforts to create and maintain safe workplaces, to encourage loss prevention programs and to encourage employer-provided wellness programs, through the normal operation of the experience rating formula, seminars and other public presentations, the development of model safety programs and other initiatives as may be determined by the executive director and the board of managers.
(b) Failure of an employer to timely pay premium taxes as provided in subsection (a) of this section, to timely file a payroll report or to maintain an adequate premium deposit shall cause the employer's account to become delinquent. No employer will be declared delinquent or be assessed any penalty for the delinquency if the commission determines that the delinquency has been caused by delays in the administration of the fund. The commission shall, in writing, within sixty days of the end of each reporting period notify all delinquent employers of their failure to timely pay premium taxes, to timely file a payroll report or to maintain an adequate premium deposit. Each employer who fails to timely file any payroll report or timely pay the premium tax due with the report, or both, for any reporting period commencing on and after July 1, 1995, shall pay a late reporting or payment penalty of the greater of $50 or a sum obtained by multiplying the premium tax due with the report by the penalty rate applicable to that reporting period. The penalty rate to be used in a Workers' Compensation Commission's fiscal year is calculated annually on the first day of each fiscal year. The penalty rate used to calculate the penalty for each reporting period in a fiscal year is the quotient, rounded to the nearest higher whole number percentage rate, obtained by dividing the sum of the prime rate plus four percent by four. The prime rate is the rate published in the Wall Street Journal on the last business day of the commission's prior fiscal year reflecting the base rate on corporate loans posted by at least seventy-five percent of the nation's thirty largest banks. The late penalty shall be paid with the most recent reporting period's report and payment and is due when that reporting period's report and payment are filed. If the late penalty is not paid when due, it may be charged to and collected by the commission from the employer's premium deposit account or otherwise as provided by law. The notification shall demand the filing of the delinquent payroll report and payment of delinquent premium taxes, the penalty for late reporting or payment of premium taxes or premium deposit, the interest penalty and an amount sufficient to maintain the premium deposit before the end of the third month following the end of the preceding reporting period. Interest shall accrue and be charged on the delinquent premium payment and premium deposit pursuant to section thirteen of this article.
(c) Whenever the commission notifies an employer of the delinquent status of its account, the notification shall explain the legal consequence of subsequent default by an employer required to subscribe to the fund and the legal consequences of termination of an electing employer's account.
(d) Failure by the employer, who is required to subscribe to the fund and who fails to resolve the delinquency within the prescribed period, shall place the account in default and shall deprive the default employer of the benefits and protection afforded by this chapter, including section six of this article, and the employer is liable as provided in section eight of this article. The default employer's liability under these sections is retroactive to midnight of the last day of the month following the end of the reporting period for which the delinquency occurs. The commission shall notify the default employer of the method by which the employer may be reinstated with the fund. The commission shall also notify the employees of the employer by written notice as hereinafter provided in this section.
(e) Failure by any employer, who voluntarily elects to subscribe, to resolve the delinquency within the prescribed period shall place the account in default and shall automatically terminate the election of the employer to pay into the Workers' Compensation Fund and shall deprive the employer and the employees of the default elective employer of the benefits and protection afforded by this chapter, including section six of this article, and the employer is liable as provided in section eight of this article. The default employer's liability under that section is retroactive to midnight of the last day of the month following the end of the payment period for which the delinquency occurs. Employees who were the subject of the default employer's voluntary election to provide them the benefits afforded by this chapter shall have the protection terminated at the time of their employer's default.
(f) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection, any employer who is required to subscribe to the fund and who is in default on the effective date of this section or who subsequently defaults, and any employer who has elected to subscribe to the fund and who defaults and whose account is terminated prior to the effective date of this section or whose account is subsequently terminated, shall be restored immediately to the benefits and protection of this chapter only upon the filing of all delinquent payroll and other reports required by the commission and payment into the fund of all unpaid premiums, an adequate premium deposit, accrued interest and the penalty for late reporting and payment. Interest is calculated as provided by section thirteen of this article.
The commission shall not have the authority to waive either premium or accrued interest: Provided, That until termination of the commission, the commissioner shall have the authority to waive either premium or accrued interest if the waiver is part of the full and final resolution of administrative or civil litigation. The provisions of section seventeen of this article apply to any action or decision of the commission under this section.
(2) The commission may restore a defaulted or terminated employer through a reinstatement agreement. The reinstatement agreement shall require the payment in full of all premium taxes, premium deposits, the penalty for late reporting and payment, past accrued interest and future interest calculated pursuant to the provisions of section thirteen of this article. Notwithstanding the filing of a reinstatement application or the entering into of a reinstatement agreement, the commission is authorized to file a lien against the employer as provided by section five-a of this article. In addition, entry into a reinstatement agreement is discretionary with the commission. Its discretion shall be exercised in keeping with the fiduciary obligations owed to the Workers' Compensation Fund. If the commission declines to enter into a reinstatement agreement and if the employer does not comply with the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, the commission may proceed with any of the collection efforts provided by section five-a of this article or as otherwise provided by this code. Applications for reinstatement shall: (A) Be made upon forms prescribed by the commission; (B) include a report of the gross wages payroll of the employer which had not been reported to the commission during the entire period of delinquency and default. The gross wages information shall be certified by the employer or its authorized agent; and (C) include a payment of a portion of the liability equal to one half of one percent of the gross payroll during the period of delinquency and default or equal to another portion of the liability determined by rule but not to exceed the amount of the entire liability due and owing for the period of delinquency and default. An employer who applies for reinstatement is entitled to the benefits and protection of this chapter on the day a properly completed and acceptable application which is accompanied by the application payment is received by the commission: Provided, That if the commission reinstates an employer subject to the terms of a reinstatement agreement, the subsequent failure of the employer to make scheduled payments or to pay accrued or future interest in accordance with the reinstatement agreement or to timely file current reports and to pay current premiums within the month following the end of the period for which the report and payment are due, or to otherwise maintain its account in good standing or, if the reinstatement agreement does not require earlier restoration of the premium deposit, to restore the premium deposit to the required amount by the end of the repayment period shall cause the reinstatement application and the reinstatement agreement to be null, void and of no effect, and the employer is denied the benefits and protection of this chapter effective from the date that the employer's account originally became delinquent.
(3) Any employer who fails to maintain its account in good standing with regard to subsequent premium taxes and premium deposits after filing an application for reinstatement and prior to the final resolution of an application for reinstatement by entering into a reinstatement agreement or by payment of the liability in full as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection shall cause the reinstatement application to be null, void and of no effect and the employer shall be denied the benefits and protection of this chapter effective from the date that the employer's account originally became delinquent.
(4) Following any failure of an employer to comply with the provisions of a reinstatement agreement, the commission may make and continue with any of the collection efforts provided by this chapter or elsewhere in this code even if the employer files another reinstatement application.
(g) With the exception noted in subsection (h), section one of this article, no employee of an employer required by this chapter to subscribe to the Workers' Compensation Fund shall be denied benefits provided by this chapter because the employer failed to subscribe or because the employer's account is either delinquent or in default.
(h) (1) The provisions of this section shall not deprive any individual of any cause of action which has accrued as a result of an injury or death which occurred during any period of delinquency not resolved in accordance with the provisions of this article, or subsequent failure to comply with the terms of the repayment agreement.
(2) Upon withdrawal from the fund or termination of election of any employer, the employer shall be refunded the balance due the employer of its deposit, after deducting all amounts owed by the employer to the Workers' Compensation Fund and other agencies of this state, and the commission shall notify the employees of the employer of the termination in the manner as the commission may consider best and sufficient.
(3) Notice to employees provided in this section shall be given by posting written notice that the employer is defaulted under the compensation law of West Virginia and in the case of employers required by this chapter to subscribe and pay premiums to the fund, that the defaulted employer is liable to its employees for injury or death, both in Workers' Compensation benefits and in damages at common law or by statute; and in the case of employers not required by this chapter to subscribe and pay premiums to the fund, but voluntarily electing to do so as provided in this article, that neither the employer nor the employees are protected by the law as to any injury or death sustained after the date specified in the notice. The notice shall be in the form prescribed by the commission and shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the chief works of the employer, as it appears in records of the commission. If the chief works of the employer cannot be found or identified, the notices shall be posted at the front door of the courthouse of the county in which the chief works are located, according to the commission's records. Any person who shall, prior to the reinstatement of the employer, as provided in this section, or prior to sixty days after the posting of the notice, whichever shall first occur, remove, deface or render illegible the notice, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined $1,000. The notice shall state this provision upon its face. The commission may require any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable or other official of the State of West Virginia, authorized to serve civil process, to post the notice and to make return thereof of the fact of the posting to the commission. Any failure of the officer to post any notice within ten days after he or she has received the notice from the commission, without just cause or excuse, constitutes a willful failure or refusal to perform a duty required of him or her by law within the meaning of section twenty-eight, article five, chapter sixty-one of this code. Any person actually injured by reason of the failure has an action against the official, and upon any official bond he or she may have given, for the damages as the person may actually have incurred, but not to exceed, in the case of any surety upon the bond, the amount of the penalty of the bond. Any official posting the notice as required in this subdivision is entitled to the same fee as is now or may hereafter be provided for the service of process in suits instituted in courts of record in the State of West Virginia. The fee shall be paid by the commission out of any funds at its disposal, but shall be charged by the commission against the account of the employer to whose delinquency the notice relates.